Apple Approves Trial Production of Next-Gen A6 Processor

Taiwan Economic News is reporting today that Apple and Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC have begun a trial production run of Apple’s next-gen A6 processor. The new processor is scheduled for testing during the first quarter of 2012 and could be unveiled as early as the second quarter of 2012 for use in future Apple devices like the iPhone 6.

According to the report, Apple’s A6 new processor will use several cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, including TSMC’s new 28-nanometer process (Apple’s current-gen A5 chip is built using a 45 nm process). The manufacturing of the A6 will also utilize a new methodology known as silicon interposer, which removes the need for active transistors, allowing the A6 to use less power and produce less heat. The new chip will also be much cheaper to produce thanks to a CuBOL (bump on trace) production technology that requires the use of less substrate material for each chip, lowering costs.

With the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 rumored to be released sometime this fall, it’s likely the A6 chip will not see action in the real world until the release of the following generation of those devices.

Apple’s current A5 chip powers the iPad 2, but rumors of overheating problems for the chip inside Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5 could mean the A5 will be shelved in favor of a dual-core version of Apple’s A4 chip. A single-core version of the A4 powers the current iPhone 4.

Taiwan Economic News notes that Apple’s A6 chip will bring much-needed new business to TSMC, who failed to win business from the iPhone maker in the past due to full bookings of its production lines by companies like NVIDIA and Qualcomm. But the recent economic downturn has left the company scrambling for business.


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